The UK government will ban the sale and use of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds with plastic stems in England from April 2020, following a consultation launched by the government last year.
In England, it is estimated that around 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used every year.
The move comes amid a public backlash against the use of plastic, and a statement from the government claims that over 80% of respondents back a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, 90% a ban on drinks stirrers, and 89% a ban on cotton buds.
Businesses such as restaurants, pubs and bars will not be able to display plastic straws or automatically hand them out, but they will be able to provide them on request.
There was one exception to the ban, as registered pharmacies will be allowed to sell plastic straws over the counter or online to consumers need access to plastic straws for medical reasons.
The UK government’s Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment.
“These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life.
“So today I am taking action to turn the tide on plastic pollution, and ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.”
Last year, the EU announced that it was considering a similar ban across the European Union, which would apply to products such as straws where alternatives such as paper straws are readily available and affordable.
Fast food giant McDonald’s also announced that all 1,361 of its restaurants in the UK and Ireland will transition from plastic straws to paper straws by the end of 2019.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020